Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom
Back to school time is here for many of us. This time of year always lends itself well to goal-setting and thinking about what we want the next nine months to look like, and what outcomes we’d like to see at the end of them.
I like to use a quick, effective tool to help me plan ahead–the six month inventory.
I first heard of the six month inventory in the book Leadership Education, one of my earliest homeschooling reads (and one that I can’t recommend highly enough). I completed my first inventory this past spring when I attended my annual homeschooling conference.
To create one, I took a small sheet of paper and wrote one of my children’s names at the top. I stopped for a few minutes to consider that child and what he or she most needs from me to learn, love, and grow over the next six months. In brainstorming mode, without overanalyzing, I wrote down all the thoughts and ideas that came to mind. Then I began a new list for the next child until Trishna, Jonathan, and Elijah each had their own.
Here are some of the bulletpoints that made it on the inventory for my kids:
- Riding bike without training wheels
- Needs extra time with Dad in the evenings
- Use of lowercase alphabet in handwriting
- Continued independent reading practice
- Work on writing his name
- Give backrubs each night before bed
- Practice with tracing letters
Notice how the inventory not only includes academics, but also thoughts about other aspects of life. Homeschooling parents know very well that the line between learning and living gets beautifully fuzzy–your goals can and should reflect this.
- What are this child’s biggest interests?
- What are his/her greatest fears?
- What are his/her fondest dreams?
- What are his/her top needs in the next six months?
- What should I do to help fulfill those needs?
- What else do I need to know?
- What else should I do?
I also made an inventory for myself–highlighting what I wanted and needed to focus on over the next six months. It included items like learning Italian, praising my children just for who they are, and getting more sleep (every mother’s goal!).
Something magical happens when we get specific and intentional enough to commit goals and thoughts to paper. Within just a couple of weeks of making my lists, I found that some of the objectives had already been accomplished! Six months is the perfect amount of time to plan for–short enough to be concrete, but long enough to allow time for growth.
Taking a six month inventory helps me remember what I can do as a parent and mentor to guide and support my children’s education. Long-term goals sometimes seem fuzzy and abstract; seeing them in black and white makes them more concrete.
As the DeMilles write in their book:
“We are interested in the education of the leaders of the future, and they live in your homes. Your children deserve it–they were born with important, world-shaping and universe-shifting missions.”
What method do you use to keep track of learning goals for yourself and your children?